Did foodservice marketing invent the rule of three?

There’s little doubt that the foodservice industry played a role in creating the “rule of three” concept.

Hey, this is the home to…

  • Bacon, lettuce and tomato;
  • Small, medium or large; and
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Simply put, the rule suggests humans can’t interpret much beyond three things during any one setting.  Whether it’s a presentation.  Advertisement.  Or blog post.

Of course, it’s even better if you can get it down to one or two things!

Versions of the rule are used everywhere.  The Marines organize training into chunks of three topics at a time so recruits learn fast and effectively.  A great photographer crops an image down to the most powerful one-third of a picture.  And we all have been conditioned to wait for the “beginning, middle and end” format of virtually every TV sitcom.

So, consider these three (not four) ideas if you’re ever stumped on how to communicate about the launch of your new nacho-flavored ice cream…

  • Eliminate the obvious. Do you still need to mention your products have zero trans fats? Doubtful.  Shipped in a re-sealable bag probably isn’t all that important, either.  Throw-away lines like these only clutter the landscape.  You’ll quickly get your eight major product points down to three by eliminating the obvious.
  • Problem solve. Operators are looking to solve particular problems.  Buyers will move on if the most pressing problems aren’t resolved in the first three bullet points.  This means maple might be your latest tuna fish flavor, but the feature won’t likely make the top three in importance.
  • Group and compare. It helps to group similar products in groups of three.  So, illustrating those three hams — honey-roasted whole, honey-roasted sliced and honey-roasted low-sodium — will register better in a buyer’s mind than mixing in the entire ham line.

Happy 3’s to you!